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Try Not To Panic: Fire vs Montreal Impact, MLS Week 24 Preview

It’s like “Don’t Panic; but if you do it’s completely understandable.”

MLS: Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew SC
Everyone looks stupid when going up for a header. It’s just science.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

I knew this day was coming. Sure, we’re still in first place but losing 3-1 to a struggling Columbus team really puts your Supporter’s Shield prospects into question. But the important thing here is to not panic. Just like I had said many ages ago at the beginning of the season, “Don’t Panic.” After that we found our happy place. In fact, looking back on it, that was the game in which we sort of turned it around. Now we’re back coming off of a 3-1 loss again and we need to hit something hard. Where’s the nearest concrete wall?

It’s right here in Montreal, where Ignacio Piatti still reigns king for the team. He’s honestly still a wonder to watch and should be the main player we focus our attention to. Other than him though, Montreal is the same story as Columbus, a team struggling around the red line. Their recent games have been filled with some really strange goals and plenty of lucky breaks. While they’re not doing that bad, I could see them being much worse than they are (but maybe it’s that the teams under them are just that bad). Anyway, here’s some clips:

Vs. NYRB 7/29

Vs. Orlando 8/5

Vs. Philly 8/12

Three Keys

Pocket Defense

One of the things I’ve noticed happening to Montreal when they concede is that their defense collapses in (or the scientific term, “scrunches up”) towards the middle. Basically a whole 4 player back line moves in together to cover the ground that two center backs would normally cover. This puts them pretty narrow and while it does protect the net in hockey, in this beautiful game it leaves you open on the wings for a player like Accam to cut in behind. If we want to beat them, that’s where we’ve got to hit them.

Hand-Full(Back)s

I’d like to apologize for this title, sometimes it’s hard to come up with good puns. My point here is that Montreal’s wings are going to be really tough to deal with for a couple of fullbacks who already showed some weakness Saturday (especially on the second goal). Piatti isn’t that much of a physical presence, but his skill is very clearly a step above most MLS right backs. On the other side we get the familiar face of Dominic Oduro, who has played for about half of the league at this point, but is still pretty dangerous wherever he goes. That’s because of his amazing speed. If you thought Accam was fast, this guy is better. Doody isn’t exactly the speediest player on the defense, so this could become an issue. So a fair warning to whoever’s starting in the central defense, you will need to cover yourself.

Tripping on the Road

I think at this point I want some sort of psychologist to take a look at this team. I’m only half joking. I feel like this team all places their hands on a soccer ball and hand in their talent before leaving the city Space Jam-style. I wish I could offer some helpful tactical hint or some specific words for what to look out for when going out on the road, but as an outsider to the world of athletes the only thing I can do is offer encouragement. We need to figure out what goes wrong when we leave home and find a way to counter-act that.

Projected Lineups

Chicago Fire

Montreal Impact

How To Watch

Kickoff: Wednesday August 16th, 7:30PM EDT/6:30PM CDT

TV/Streaming: CSN-Chicago, MLS Live

So can the Fire find out how to play on the road like they do at home? Or will we continue to be disappointed in travel? Tell us what you think in the comments.